Suspect in Paul Pelosi attack awoke him by standing over his bedside, documents show

Nov 3, 2022, 7:00 AM | Updated: 9:57 am
David Wayne DePape, 42, who is charged with breaking into U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Fra...
David Wayne DePape, 42, who is charged with breaking into U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco home and clubbing her husband in the head with a hammer, wears his arm in a sling before San Francisco Superior Court Judge Diane Northway at the Criminal courts in San Francisco, California U.S. Nov. 1, 2022 in this courtroom sketch. REUTERS/Vicki Behringer

 (CNN) — Disturbing new details have emerged in the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, including that the alleged assailant told police he was on a “suicide mission” and had a list of other prominent targets.

Court documents released on Tuesday show that the man arrested in the assault, David DePape, allegedly awoke Paul Pelosi by standing over his bedside and prevented him from escaping — all while demanding to know the whereabouts of the House speaker.

“This was not a random act of violence. This was not a random residential burglary. This is something that was specifically targeted,” San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said Tuesday.

Here’s what we presently know about the attack.

‘Suicide mission’

DePape, 42, told officers and medics at the scene that he was sick of the “level of lies” coming from Washington, DC, and “came here to have a little chat with [Pelosi’s] wife,” according to a Tuesday court filing.

“I didn’t really want to hurt him, but you know this was a suicide mission. I’m not going to stand here and do nothing even if it cost me my life,” DePape allegedly said.

DePape named several targets, according to the filing, including prominent state and federal politicians and their relatives.

Jenkins confirmed to CNN earlier Tuesday that authorities believe DePape had other “targets” besides the House speaker.

Asked by CNN’s Erin Burnett about the suspect’s alleged plans, Jenkins said that “there were other public officials that were apparently targets of his, and obviously he showed up at the speaker’s house first.” The case, Jenkins said, is still “very fresh” and she declined to give specific details of who had been a potential target.

DePape has been “cooperative” with police and “submitted to a lengthy interview” before obtaining representation through counsel, according to the district attorney.

Chilling new details

Court documents released on Tuesday revealed chilling new details about the encounter. DePape allegedly awoke a startled Paul Pelosi shortly after 2 am at his bedside, carrying a large hammer and several white zip ties, as CNN has previously reported.

“Are you Paul Pelosi?” DePape asked, according to the documents. He then demanded to know, “Where’s Nancy? Where’s Nancy?,” to which a groggy Paul Pelosi replied, “She’s not here.”

He then threatened to tie up Paul Pelosi and prevented him from escaping via elevator, according to the documents. Paul Pelosi asked DePape why he wanted to see his wife.

“Well, she’s number two from the presidency, right?,” DePape said.

After Paul Pelosi confirmed that she was, DePape said, “we’ve got to take them all out,” referring to politicians, according to the court documents.

At one point, DePape allowed Pelosi to use the bathroom, and it was during this time that he was able to use his cell phone to call 911, according to the court documents. Pelosi spoke cryptically to police during the brief call and was able to subtly identify himself to the dispatcher, who was then able to escalate the call.

Following the call, the two men went downstairs, with DePape walking behind Pelosi and carrying with him the hammer and zip ties, according to the documents. Downstairs, DePape, noting that police would be arriving soon, told Pelosi: “I can take you out.” He then walked over to Pelosi while holding the hammer upright, causing Pelosi to reach out and put his hand on it.

The officers arrived at the scene at this point, and after Pelosi opened the door and greeted them, one of them turned on their flashlight and saw the two men holding opposite ends of the hammer, according to the court documents. An officer ordered them to drop hammer, but DePape pulled it away from Pelosi, “immediately stepped back and lunged at Mr. Pelosi, striking Mr. Pelosi in the head at full force with the hammer, which knocked Mr. Pelosi unconscious.”

“The officers rushed into the house, tackled (DePape), and disarmed him. Mr. Pelosi remained unresponsive for about three minutes, waking up in a pool of his own blood,” the documents said.

How US Capitol Police learned of break-in

US Capitol Police first learned of the break-in at the San Francisco home about 10 minutes after the incident when an officer noticed police lights and sirens on a live camera feed in the Capitol Police’s Washington, DC, command center, according to a source briefed on the attack.

CNN previously reported there may be video of the break-in that US Capitol Police and law enforcement could review as there are security cameras at the home, according to two law enforcement sources.

The San Francisco Police Department had stopped regularly posting a patrol car outside Pelosi’s house last year, according to two additional sources.

DePape in court

DePape entered a not guilty plea Tuesday to all state charges during his initial appearance in court.

He also waived his right to a hearing within 10 days at his arraignment in a San Francisco court room. Judge Diane Northway set a hearing for November 4 in San Francisco Superior Court to set a date for the preliminary hearing and bail setting.

DePape has been charged with a litany of crimes, including assault, attempted murder and attempted kidnapping, following last week’s break-in.

The attempted kidnapping charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. He has not yet entered a plea in federal court.

DePape’s attorney, Adam Lipson, said outside the courtroom, “There’s been a lot of speculation, a lot of rumor, simply based on the nature of this case. So I’m not going to add to all the speculation by talking about the facts of this case right now.”

“What I will say is that there’s been a lot of speculation regarding Mr. DePape’s vulnerability to misinformation and that’s certainly something we are going to look into, that we are going to delve into, as his defense team, but again it would be premature to talk about that at this time,” Lipson said.

Security concerns mount

US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said Tuesday the agency has “engaged in a review” of the incident and said the current political climate calls for more resources for the physical safety of members of Congress.

“We believe today’s political climate calls for more resources to provide additional layers of physical security for Members of Congress,” Manger said in a written statement.

“This plan would include an emphasis on adding redundancies to the measures that are already in place for Congressional leadership. Hopefully you can understand that we cannot disclose the details about these improvements because our country cannot afford to make it easier for any potential bad actors,” he added.

Manger also said the Capitol Police has “worked diligently to investigate reported threats, improve intelligence collection and analysis, and strengthen our partnerships with law enforcement agencies across the country to provide security for Members when they are traveling outside Washington, DC.”

California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Tuesday that lawmakers won’t be any safer “until we call out what is the root cause of this political violence.”

“The head of the RNC, Ronna McDaniel and also Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, expressed sadness for Paul Pelosi. But then went onto say ‘it’s really a product of crime — that’s the Democrats fault.'”

“That’s like saying Lee Harvey Oswald was connected with crime in Dallas or John Wilkes Booth was the result of a crime problem at Ford’s Theater. Not only is it ridiculous, it is part of the problem of dismissing what is causing this violence,” Lofgren said.

Trump fans conspiracy theory

Just one day after releasing a tepid but grounded statement on the incident, former President Donald Trump fanned the flames of an unfounded conspiracy about the attack.

“It’s weird things going on in that household in the last couple of weeks,” Trump said. “You know, probably, you and I are better off not talking about it. The glass, it seems, was broken from the inside to the out and, you know, so, it wasn’t a break in, it was a break out,” the former President told conservative radio host Chris Stigall.

Trump went on to say that he’s “not a fan of Nancy Pelosi,” but that what happened was “very sad.” He added: “The whole thing is crazy. I mean, if there’s even a little bit of truth to what’s being said, it’s crazy. But the window was broken in and it was strange the cops were standing there practically from the moment it all took place.”

In the days following the attack, several prominent right-wing figures have floated conspiracy theories about the attack — including that Paul Pelosi and the intruder were gay lovers who had gotten into a fight.

The spurious theory traces back to an incorrect early news report and a handful of pieces of evidence that its proponents have spun wildly out of context. It runs entirely contrary to the explanation police and federal law enforcement have outlined.

“There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Pelosi knew this man,” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott told CNN in an interview. “As a matter of fact, the evidence indicates the exact opposite.”

Also on Tuesday, Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake — whose embrace of Trump’s brand of politics has been a central part of her campaign — claimed she was not making light of the assault earlier in the week despite clearly joking about a lack of security at the Pelosis’ home.

In contrast, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican who drew criticism last week after referencing the attack as part of a political swipe at Nancy Pelosi, expressed regret over his remark.

“At the end of the day, I really wanted to express the fact that what happened to Speaker Pelosi’s husband was atrocious. And I didn’t do a great job,” he told Punchbowl News.

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Suspect in Paul Pelosi attack awoke him by standing over his bedside, documents show